Posted by: amylamb | July 3, 2012

Not Yet Do I Know Fully

“Can we burn it?”

In my hands was my Senior Honors Thesis. Though I still own plenty of digital copies for posterity’s sake, I joined my professors around a bonfire in which I threw each page, one by one. I watched the edges blacken and the words over which I labored turn to ashes. And yet, it wasn’t disappointment or frustration that I felt in that moment, but a strange form of delightful hope in knowing that the progress of the mind remains unstoppable.

I didn’t want to get comfortable in the illusion of completion. So the act of burning the most demanding work I’ve ever produced was a symbolic way of saying, “Not yet do I know fully.”

I’m not sure how to reconcile the need for well-founded conviction and the knowledge that we can’t fully comprehend truth. No matter how convinced of our beliefs we are, we can not dispel the notion that we could be wrong. Though Truth has been revealed in part, we must continue to seek in order to understand more completely. After all, we only know enough to live between the proclamation of “LORD, I believe,” and the confession of “help my unbelief.” Even so, we sacrifice the pursuit of knowing fully once we claim the inerrancy of our opinion. But if we hold fast to the ever-proceeding pursuit of Truth, with the reason necessary to explore and the faith necessary to decide, then its revelation is imminent.

So how then should we live? Should we relegate our capacity for conviction to the apathy of relativism, or sacrifice a greater knowledge of the Truth to our nagging need for conclusive answers?

Though this tension is delicate, I am convinced that we must continuously seek Truth with the tenacity to hold fast to what has already been revealed and the willingness to admit that we could be wrong. Otherwise, we fall into apathy that dwindles into destruction, on personal and societal levels.

In the midst of writing my thesis, I encountered an idea that changed everything I had done thus far. Frustrated and overwhelmed, I went to a professor, who wisely said:

“When you write, do justice to where you are at present. Don’t let fear of being wrong keep you from seeking Truth through your inadequacy.”

In other words, it’s okay to change your mind, as long as you continuously defend and develop your convictions. Stand firm on what you know, but keep pursuing a deeper revelation of the Truth that changes everything, because He changes us.

Ronald Reagan defined this position well to his discouraged campaign team after a bitter election loss:
“Don’t give up your ideals. Don’t compromise. Don’t turn to expediency. Don’t get cynical.”

Notice that compromise and cynicism are opposites, yet both cautioned against — neither extreme promotes progress. Keeping this in mind, Reagan’s firm grasp on the principles he knew to be true — and the flexibility to adapt to a dynamic environment — led his campaign to a decisive victory and an administration that changed the course of our nation forever.

Though the breakthroughs of yesterday eventually turn to ashes, the foundation they lay for tomorrow leads us further along the journey of which He is the reward. As G.K. Chesterton wrote, “You may alter the place to which you are going; but you cannot alter the place from which you have come.”

Above all else, keep relentlessly pursuing the Truth that relentlessly pursues you.
For  “then (we) shall know fully . . .” (1 Cor. 13:12)

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